“The Alien in the White House” – What Makes Obama Different?

June 13, 2010

Last week Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal provocatively titled “The Alien in the White House” on how Obama differs from previous presidents.

Her argument has nothing to do with the fringe that questions the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate. What makes Obama “alien” when it comes to the presidency is much more serious: he fundamentally does not identify with the American people the way every previous presidents with the possible exception of post-presidential Jimmy Carter have identified with Americans. He lacks the qualities that make it natural to perceive him as the leader of the country.

…it was clear from the first that this president—single-minded, ever-visible, confident in his program for a reformed America saved from darkness by his arrival—was wanting in certain qualities citizens have until now taken for granted in their presidents. Namely, a tone and presence that said: This is the Americans’ leader, a man of them, for them, the nation’s voice and champion. Mr. Obama wasn’t lacking in concern about the oil spill. What he lacked was that voice…

Throughout the campaign Obama was praised for his rhetoric. But the qualities required in an American president do not center around soaring eloquence.

They were a matter of identification with the nation and to all that binds its people together in pride and allegiance. These are feelings held deep in American hearts, unvoiced mostly, but unmistakably there and not only on the Fourth of July.

A great part of America now understands that this president’s sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.

Rabinowitz cites various actions by the President and his advisors that are the result of this lack of identification with America and its people’s values. One of Obama’s first acts was to return a statue of Winston Churchill lent by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair after 9/11 back to Britain. To Americans, Churchill is the lion of World War 2 who fought the Nazis and valued his friendship with President Roosevelt and his alliance with America. Clearly, Obama does not understand the symbol Churchill has become of someone who fought for freedom and who cemented the special relationship between American and Great Britain.

Obama administration officials have gone out of their way to deny any connection between radical Islam and terrorism. Recently, a State Department official, told his Chinese counterpart that the US too has problems with human rights violations citing the new Arizona immigration law. We are apparently now equal to a government that has in the past sixty years slaughtered tens of millions of its own citizens because an Arizona police officer stopping someone for speeding may ask them to provide a driver’s license as proof of legal immigration status.

I would add to these examples, Obama’s complete lack of understanding of individual initiative and ingenuity as the engines of economic growth and the creation of jobs. He seems to believe that the only way to create a job is for the federal government to spend more “stimulus” money.

Rabinowitz concludes:

They are attitudes to be found everywhere, but never before in a president of the United States. Mr. Obama may not hold all, or the more extreme, of these views. But there can be no doubt by now of the influences that have shaped him. They account for his grand apology tour through the capitals of Europe and to the Muslim world, during which he decried America’s moral failures—her arrogance, insensitivity. They were the words of a man to whom reasons for American guilt came naturally. Americans were shocked by this behavior in their newly elected president. But he was telling them something from those lecterns in foreign lands—something about his distant relation to the country he was about to lead.

The truth about that distance is now sinking in, which is all to the good. A country governed by leaders too principled to speak the name of its mortal enemy needs every infusion of reality it can get.

Watch Dorothy Rabinowitz on Fox News discuss her article:

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